The public is invited to attend the groundbreaking and unveiling ceremony for New Bern’s new workforce development training center. The event will be held on Tuesday, August 15th at 10 a.m. at the center located at 205 First Street. Refreshments will be served.
The City of New Bern and Craven Community College learned in January that, as co-applicants, they had received a nearly $1.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA) to transform one of the gateways into New Bern. The grant will be used to modify the City’s old electric generation plant and warehouse into a regional workforce development and training center. Renovations to the 4.6 acre site will include creation of a modern training center which will be leased to Craven Community College for hosting classes, hands-on training, and skilled trades certifications. These classes and training opportunities will equip students with the skills necessary to acquire jobs in small engine repair, construction trades, manufacturing, and food service. Additionally, a makerspace will be created in a separate building on the lot. The makerspace will provide startup space for entrepreneurs. They will have individual areas to design and create products and sell them to the public.
The City also received a grant of $549,000 from the Golden LEAF Foundation. This grant will be used for construction costs for the training center. Additional funding support came from the Craven 100 Alliance ($50,000) and the Harold H. Bate Foundation ($25,000). The North Carolina Department of Transportation has designated $800,000 in funding to be used for traffic enhancements along the First Street gateway into New Bern, including improved motorist, pedestrian and bicycle access into the training center and along both sides of the street. Upon completion, First Street will feature wide bicycle lanes, new crosswalks, and improved sidewalks.
The City’s former electric generation plant dates back to the 1940s. Huge turbines and engines manufactured electricity until the equipment was sold in the late 50s and early 60s, when the city began purchasing wholesale power. Later, the city used the building as its warehouse, stocking supplies for work and repair crews as well as furniture, office supplies and electronics for management and administrative offices. Three years ago, the City moved the warehouse function to Kale Road. The property has been vacant ever since.
Construction on the new workforce development and training center is scheduled to begin in November and last about five months. Classes and training programs are tentatively scheduled to begin in late spring 2018.
Submitted by: Colleen Roberts, Public Information Officer for the City of New Bern